eLocity A7+ Hands On/Quick Look

Super sorry about the really weird black border and lower-ish quality. It takes 4+ hours to upload videos like this, and I am not about to do it again.

 

Re-Uploaded, all good now

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Stock Firmware

I will start to modify my eLocity A7+ with custom ROMs probably tomorrow or over this coming weekend. Here is an overview of how well the device performs with the stock Android 2.2 firmware.

From Off to On

It takes 2-3 seconds of holding down the power button for the tablet to turn on the green indicator light and begin the power up process.

At about 5 seconds “Device boot up” is show in really small white text in the top right corner.

At about 8 seconds, “ANDROID” is shown in small white text.

At about 16 seconds, the green “eLocity*” logo is shown in the direct center.

32 seconds is where the device actually shows the lockscreen and becomes functional.

From On to Off

A force shutdown (holding down the power button until the A7+ shuts down completely) takes about 10 seconds. This will vary depending on what system process you have running.

A normal shutdown (holding the power button for 1 or 2 seconds and then selecting “power off”) takes about 14 seconds. Note that this number will vary greatly if the device is frozen or is running lots of processes. 14 seconds is the number I got from a fresh boot up process.

App Support

If you bought or are buying this tablet to run all the latest applications, forget it or flash a new ROM. These days, in the era of 2.3 to 4.1 devices, Android 2.2 comes way short. Yes, you can still get facebook, twitter, email, pictures, flash, browsers, and google voice. But you can’t get a lot of custom launchers, keyboards, games, software enhancements, productivity apps, or any recently launched app. I was able to get around some of this by downloading .apk files and installing them directly, but that is frowned upon by many. It is truly annoying to see the black banner stating that “Your device is not compatible with this version” every time you go to download something from the market.                                    A couple of notable non-supported apps: Netflix, YouTube, Skydrive, Go Launcher EX, Go Locker Opera Web Browser.

The android market is a different matter. The A7+ comes shipped with an extremely outdated version, one old enough to where finding applications is up to you and your favorite search engine. The default app recommendation page, and any applications page really, only shows 10 or so apps.There is no “load more” button, or scrolling down. This is fixed, however, by an easy root hack. I got Google Play up and running within 5 minutes of hearing that it was possible.

Browsing

The Nvidia Tegra II processor does not disappoint here. Browsing is snappy and responsive. Web pages will load slowly because your network is slow, not because the device has a hard time with them. The higher resolution screen is nice as well. Zooming in (with true multi-touch, might I add) works flawlessly.

I use the Firefox Beta browser and the Dolphin HD browser. Firefox Beta doesn’t like YouYube (it tries to redirect to the application, which doesn’t exist for 2.2), so I use Dolphin for that. The default Android browser’s smoothness is OK and plays flash content fine.

Flash

The A7+ comes with flash 10.1 pre-installed. This means that you can browse the web and watch embedded videos. Because of the fast processor, you can have videos running while you scroll down the page, but be warned that the more content-heavy the page is the slower it will load.

Even though the official YouTube application does not support Android 2.2, you can still browse the mobile (or desktop, if you really want to) version of the YouTube website. I haven’t noticed any real problems with this method. m.youtube.com is well put together. (In my opinion, at least.)

There is one reoccurring bug with flash playback that I have experienced. Sometimes, after watching 10 or 15 videos in a day, the software will just recognize a video as “unplayable” or the device will freeze when you try to play another video. This only happens after I do intense browsing and multitasking, which probably contributes to the problem.

Gaming

The Tegra II processor would be really nice… if I could use it. The A7+ comes with a nasty orientation glitch that makes it next to impossible to play games that use the gyroscope. Not only that, but because the device is running 2.2 there is a very small selection of games that would even come remotely close to using all of the processor’s power.

Not much can be said otherwise. Casual games work fine and smooth. I played Minecraft Pocket Edition with no problem. You can play all the Destinia you want (in that case I was forced to download the apk though). I also downloaded a game called “Spirit” (Again, not from the market) which runs really nice and it’s a pretty fun game.

Productivity

I didn’t do much testing with this, because I didn’t want to pay $6 for a word processing app. What I DID test was the mouse and keyboard input-

Mouse and Keyboard Input

I won’t lie here- I had a tremendous amount of fun using the tablet like a PC or laptop. My friend has an (Intel?) keyboard and mouse that both connect to a small USB dongle. I plugged in the dongle and started using both input methods without any problems! The cursor comes up as a crosshair. The keyboard works whenever you want to input text. Keyboard function keys can also be used, but the functions will varry by keyboard. Typing is a little laggy on an old USB keyboard I found laying around, but not on the wireless keyboard I tested out. That might just be due to the fact that it is old.

The Status Bar

By default the status bar shows the orientation, volume and brightness controls. It is really a bummer that the A7+ does not have a volume soft key, but to be honest I didn’t notice any cases where my experience was hindered by that fact.

Overall the eLocity A7+’s firmware is lacking in some core aspects but excels in browsing and media.